â€œDoc, I think I am losing my mind.â€ Everybody develops memory loss as we age. It is usually manifested by an inability to remember someoneâ€™s name, where we placed something or what did I come into this room for? Relax. This is normal and doesnâ€™t represent Alzheimerâ€™s (our worst fear). If it isnâ€™t football season, it is usually due to stress, fatigue or even depression. Dementia, Alzheimerâ€™s or otherwise (senile), is a progressive and persistent loss of not only memory but other functional capacities as well. These may include word finding, difficulty following a conversation, inability to perform previously learned tasks, inability to recognize objects and poor judgment. Long term memory (what they did 40 years ago) remains intact.
There are tests that can be taken at the physicianâ€™s office or even on line that can be given to the suspected person to help determine this. I use the MMSE (mini mental status exam). It quickly tests a variety of functions that will help determine if you or your loved one is actually â€œlosing their mindâ€. If you walk into the kitchen and canâ€™t remember why you did, youâ€™re probably okay. If you walk into the garage and look for the milk, you need to see someone.